Virtual reality (VR) can be used for all kinds of things, the most obvious being for entertainment purposes. However as we have found in the past, VR can be used in other industries as well, such as cancer research. According to a report from the BBC, it appears that scientists over at Cambridge have developed a 3D model of a tumor that can be viewed and studied while in VR.

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The tumor sample was said to have been taken from a patient and by creating a 3D model of it and putting it inside an immersive environment such as VR, the idea is that hopefully this will give scientists a new perspective and a new way to look at cancer, perhaps allowing them to better understand it which in turn will allow them to come up with better forms of treatment, or maybe even a cure.

In order to get the tumor into the VR environment, a 3D model had to be made. This was done by using a 1mm cubed piece of breast cancer tissue which contains about 100,000 cells. The tissue is then sliced further, scanned, and stained with markers to show the molecular make-up and its DNA characteristics, and then rebuilt in VR, which in turn allows scientists around the world to access it from a VR laboratory.

According to Prof Greg Hannon, director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute , “No-one has examined the geography of a tumour in this level of detail before; it is a new way of looking at cancer.” Prof Karen Vousden, CRUK’s chief scientist adds, “Understanding how cancer cells interact with each other and with healthy tissue is critical if we are going to develop new therapies – looking at tumours using this new system is so much more dynamic than the static 2D versions we are used to.”

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